When a young entrepreneur lands an interview on UK national radio, Google Analytics shows the power of the broadcast word. Steve Barnes, co-founder of Appetise.com, the fast-growing online takeaway food ordering service, explains why he’s clicking the radio button.
Getting your business featured on radio is something that as a business owner, marketing manager or sales director you probably dream about. Whether it’s a local station or national coverage, the exposure is what we crave: it’s what our businesses thrive on and need to survive.
How you actually get yourself on radio is something different entirely, and it may well depend on the skills and contacts that your PR team can muster. But once past that hurdle, how can you maximise your time on air and what sort of results can you expect?
It may surprise you, but radio listeners are more closely engaged with their programme content than TV viewers are with theirs. This is because listeners need only to focus on a single channel of output. Viewers on the other hand have to split their concentration between what the eyes are seeing and what the ears are hearing. The video element is enormously compelling, so it’s impossible to concentrate fully on what the person on screen is actually saying.
When people are listening to you on radio they are entirely focused on the words you are saying because that is their only input. Similarly, people often totally block out the outside world when they are on the phone: they are clinging to their only source of input and ignoring everything else that isn’t relevant.
The audience is tailored
Every radio show has its own unique listenership and the regularity of most radio shows means that a person probably tunes into that DJ or presenter every day. This is the same with local and national radio.
Before you go on air it’s a good idea to research the sort of topics they usually discuss and build a picture of the typical listener the programme is targeting. Ask the producer before you go into the studio. Pitch anything you say appropriately to your audience – and you must: if you don’t, your time on the air will be cut short!
What you say matters
If the show is broadcast live, then you need to hit the right notes quickly otherwise the interviewer will simply cut your part short and move on to the next person or feature. If you are interesting and engaging and your words lead the interviewer to ask more questions then your time on the air may be extended.
For successful radio PR you need to either be doing one of both of these:
• Provide tremendous value to the show’s listeners – One of the main reasons to bring people on to a show is because they are experts in their field. You need to be armed with some great information or tips on your subject area
• Tell a compelling story – This is less likely to be the reason you are invited on to a show as a guest. However, once you are on air, the story you tell needs to be clear, concise and interesting. Practise telling your main story before you go on so that you can convey your key messages properly. Give the interviewer a detailed briefing sheet in advance: as this helps steer questioning along lines that you want.
What can you expect?
Going on the radio requires an investment in your time that is disproportionate to the time you are actually on air. So what’s the attraction? The answer, quite simply, is that the few minutes you have at the microphone represent a golden opportunity to talk directly to large numbers of people who could be your customers. Their response can be immediate.
I was fortunate to be invited on to The Jeremy Vine Show on BBC Radio 2 to talk about the business I co-founded – Appetise.com. The interview lasted about four minutes, and was broadcast at a time when our online takeaway food ordering service is normally very quiet.
While I was on air, we tracked the number of hits on our website, using the real time activity feature in Google Analytics. The results during and immediately after the interview were staggering many hundreds of people clicked on Appetise.com. You can listen to the interview and see our screencast of site hits in the video below.
Perhaps you won’t see a result as instantly measurable as ours, but if you handle things well you can’t lose by increasing the reach and image of your business.
Do you have any experiences of getting your business on the radio? If so, please share in the comments.
You can follow Steve Barnes on Twitter: @stevejohnbarnes
For more on Appetise.com, go to www.appetise.com or follow @appetise
On a recent foray into cyberspace I found an article by a PR person providing step-by-step instructions on writing a media release. To many of us who make a living from drafting media releases – and the many other types of PR copy – this is something of an ‘own goal’: why tell potential clients how to do something free that you could do for a fee?
‘How to’ articles like that one are often dangerous, because they don’t always cover all the essential steps. Even with the best will in the world, they cannot conjure up those vital sparks of creative genius and journalistic flair that are honed by many years’ experience of news and PR writing.
As a result, do-it-yourself PR attempts often fail, leaving their authors disillusioned with the process – and their communication plans unfulfilled. Worse, they may not even turn to professionals for help.
The alternative scenario involves outsourcing the preparation and dissemination of media releases to dedicated PR specialists who know how to achieve results and have a track record to prove it. This scenario does not have to be expensive, but it is certainly the more cost-effective – especially as it frees up client time for concentrating on mainstream company business.
Few companies are strong enough to meet all their service requirements in-house, so they buy-in a host of skills when needed. PR is one such skill.
Perhaps the one redeeming feature of the ‘own goal’ article I read on the Internet was that it could help potential clients to understand some of the complexities of writing releases. Enough perhaps, to steer them in the direction of my professional colleagues and me: but not enough to turn them into successful PR writers – however well they write by any other standards.
David Goddin was born in the UK and educated in South Africa. He began his career on daily newspapers and trade journals, before moving into public relations consulting. He produced award-winning writing and became an Accredited PR Practitioner, the highest qualification of the Public Relations Institute of South Africa. Since his return to the UK 16 years ago he has also contributed to a number of highly successful PR and marketing communications campaigns for major national and multinational clients. He is currently also President of the Haslemere & District Chamber of Trade & Commerce.